A wave of Russian shelling killed four people across Ukraine on Monday, officials said, as authorities in the Russian border city of Belgorod evacuated hundreds due to Ukrainian counteroffensive missile strikes.
“This morning, unfortunately, began again with a massive missile attack,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily address.
“Forty-five people were injured, and at this time, we know of four dead,” he said.
Russian missiles hit a shopping center and high-rise buildings in Zelensky's hometown of Kryvyi Rih, killing one person, deputy head of the presidency Oleksiy Kuleba said.
A separate missile attack in the western region of Khmelnytsky killed two people, officials said, while an elderly woman in the Kharkiv region died after being pulled from the rubble of her home.
Moscow – which regularly targets civilian infrastructure including hospitals and schools – claimed in its latest defense ministry briefing that it was striking only “military” targets.
Bolstered by Western air equipment, Ukraine's defense forces has been destroying most of the drones and missiles that Russia launched in regular bombings.
But it downed just 18 out of 51 missiles on Monday raising fears that Ukraine may be running out of ammunition.
“A large number of ballistic missiles were launched today... Many said the rate (of destroyed missiles) is not very high,” air force spokesman Yuri Ignat acknowledged.
But air defense achieved “a good result,” Ignat said, with all drones destroyed and some Russian missiles also missing their targets.
Ukraine has warned it needs continued support to sustain its air defense systems amid the Kremlin’s bombing escalation.
- Evacuations from border city -
Russian territory has seen renewed counteroffensive drone attacks from Ukraine.
Russian air defenses downed two drones over the border region of Bryansk on Monday, its defense ministry said.
The announcement came as Russia moved around 300 people from the border city of Belgorod – a region from which it regularly launches attacks on Ukraine – the biggest evacuation from a major Russian city since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.
Kyiv's forces have launched waves of strikes on Belgorod, which lies less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border.
The residents who decided to leave are being housed in temporary accommodation in the towns of Stary Oskol, Gubkin and the Korochansky district, further from the border, Russian regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.
“Over the past 24 hours we received 1,300 requests to send Belgorod children to school camps away from the city in other regions,” he claimed.
The Kremlin has tried to maintain the semblance of normalcy on the home front as it wages full-scale war on Ukraine, but recent strikes in Belgorod have brought the Kremlin’s invasion closer to home for many Russians.
On Dec. 30, Ukrainian strikes on Russian military equipment in Belgorad, shot down by Russian forces, caused the death of 25 people, prompting schools to shut for an extended period.
Moscow vowed to continue to intensify its strikes on Ukraine “in response” to the attack, the deadliest in Russia since the start of its unprovoked war on Ukraine in February 2022.
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